Here's the thing to remember, though. Even when we're in the midsts of our own personal pity parties or temper tantrums, good stuff keeps keepin' on. People still help one another. Meals are still delivered to sick people. Gifts are still given to new parents. Money is still dropped in collection plates. Hand-me-downs are still passed on. Prayers are still given. Kids are still taught. Homeless people are still housed. Kindness is still offered, and accepted with deep gratitude.
It's easy to forget about daily kindnesses when we're too focused on negative news and negative self-projections. But please take note: we're all made of stardust, and in this infinite cosmos that we call home we can amplify our stardust selves simply by acting with kindness toward one another. We can make ourselves and others shine brighter, even twinkle and shimmer, by treating each other well.
I have been reminded of the promise of our capacity for kindness in watching my 4-year-old daughter participate in a pre-school civic responsibility project. The eight 2- to 5-year old students in her class spent the last two weeks raising money (by doing chores!) to build a house for a family in Nicaragua. A group from JMU goes to Nicaragua every spring break to build houses. The kiddos raised a total of $282, plus an additional $525 from a BBQ fundraiser by one of the parents, plus matching funds from a kind donor, for a grand total of $1,414! Amazing. As my husband wrote on Facebook:
[T]he two most important things she learned are:
1. She can make a difference in the world, and it is important to try to do what you can, where you are, with the resources you have. Her little arms stacked paper, organized offices, created art, pulled weeds, sharpened pencils, returned library books and much more. These small things helped to provide money to build a house. If her four year old self can do that, then there is hope in this world.
2. She learned that she is not in this alone. The number of people who were incredibly generous truly blew me away. She kept saying "all these people really want that house to get built, don't they Daddy?" In raising money, she learned that the world is a place where people want to help, and that if we act in ways that are kind, then others will follow. You don't have to run a nonprofit or lead a major fundraising campaign (although please please please keep doing those things) to make a difference. You can just be a 4 year old who thinks everyone deserves to have a roof over their heads.
Thanks to everyone who contributed and who works hard every day to make this world a better place. And good wishes to the wonderful group of volunteers as they head to Nicaragua with dollars raised by tiny hands looking to make a difference.